Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Jam of the day, late-night TV, music discovery, SXSW, and left-handed guitarists: Gary Clark, Jr. / "Bright Lights"

This song is a straight jam, no ifs ands or buts or becauses or what-have-yous about it. I don't know much about Gary Clark, Jr., though. I stumbled on this tune via a message board a number of months ago, and I remember really digging it when I heard it (and it was this specific video, too, not a studio recording). I didn't investigate the guy further, though, for whatever reason, thinking him too "mainstream" or something silly like that, then totally forgot about it until earlier tonight.

I was watching late night TV because the featured bands actually piqued my interest: Sharon Van Etten (*swoon*) was on Conan playing "Leonard", and then The Shins were on Letterman playing "Simple Song". I flipped over to Fallon to catch Jon Hamm (I find him hilarious whenever he's on 30 Rock and SNL) and left the TV on in the background as I came back to my laptop to do some more writing work. Eventually, Carson Daly's show came on and he said that this episode would be devoted to artists they saw and loved at SXSW.

This brought to mind a couple of things. First, it made me think about how people discover music these days, who we view as "go-to sources" for music discovery, who we trust as musical litmus tests. It's strange to think of times when, I dunno, Rolling Stone might be your one and only print publication by which to judge new releases. Or shit, the radio, even! What was music discovery like before the internet?! Personally, I didn't discover any music outside of classic rock radio that my dad played in the car up through high school, so I can only imagine what kind of dark ages the 80s and 70s and … well, fuck, there was some great music coming out back then, right? And people were finding out about it, I presume. Is the internet actually a good thing? My vast digital music collection says, "Hell yeah motherfucker!", but my exploding inbox of "Listen to my music pleeez!" says, "Hell no, motherfucker!". Only time will tell, I suppose.

Second, this reminded me of a Tweet from some friends who were down in Austin at SXSW last week. Apparently, Carson Daly was onstage playing drums with Thee Oh Sees?!?!?!? I love that band and their garage rock awesomeness, and it's hard to imagine Mr. TRL drumming along to such tune-age at all, let alone live with these dudes. Still, it makes me wish I had been there to see it, because I'm sure it was a spectacle, an experience, something interesting to witness. I've never been to any kind of music festival, so that's something on my agenda for the future.

What else was I talking about? Oh, you'll notice that the second guitarist in this video (the first guy you see in the first frame) is a left-handed guitarist. As a staunch ambidexterian (if you ask, I can list all of the things I do lefty and all of the things I do righty; there are plenty of each), I find it particularly interesting to see people doing something lefty that is vastly more commonly done righty. Guitar-playing, golfing, hand-writing, masturbating … just kidding. No really, I'm kidding, don't show me. Jimi Hendrix and Paul McCartney stand out as striking left-handed guitarist examples. Do you have any others? Famous or otherwise?

Where were we … back to this Gary Clark, Jr. tune, right! This was recorded at Eric Clapton's Crossroads Guitar Festival, and it has some great footage of Clark singing and guitaring, plus his backing band of guitarist, bassist, drummer, and brass. His voice is outstanding. I think that's what really gets me, that he's belting out these lines while strumming some sweet licks and solos. Not to mention how cool those shades are …

"You're gonna know my name by the end of the night"

Gary Clark Jr. on the web: Website Facebook Twitter YouTube

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